Gaming My Way

01 May

The Revival of Sonic the Hedgehog

There was once a time when Sonic clashed with Mario for supremacy over all video games. Everyone had a side of the fence, and while you might own both a Genesis and a Super Nintendo, you still probably had a side.

My allegiance was to Sonic. For the foreseeable future, it will remain with Sonic. However, our favorite blue hedgehog is in desperate straits right now.

Sega has lost the magic formula. Sonic Adventure was an amazing transition to 3d for the blue blur. It was everything I’d hoped for, and it was what sold the Dreamcast to me. Sure, it had a couple of irritating parts, specifically Big’s and Knuckles’ levels, but they were short and not that irritating, and everything else was pure gold.

Then there was Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic’s and Shadow’s levels were everything I could have asked for in a sequel. Spot on. Tails never should have taken up the plane-mech abomination outside a cutscene or mini-game though. Tails was fun because he was more maneuverable than Sonic, even if he wasn’t as fast. And flying was fun. The big clunky plane-mech was not. And Robotnik, now known as Eggman, should have had the egg-o-matic or something else fun to pilot, not an abomination controlling just like the plane-mech. Something with controls that worked more like they did on Cosmic Wall would have been a good start. As for Knuckles and Rouge, they just need a new kind of level, because collecting hidden gems is irritating, and not at all fun. In essence, this game had it’s redeeming features, and I enjoyed it, but there were parts that needed to be thought out better.

After that, we had Sonic Heroes, which is basically Sonic for beginners, with not much depth to it. Shadow the Hedgehog gave us some really bad level design, and a need to replay the game way too much to get the final story. Sonic and the Secret Rings had a relatively clunky control setup, and you had to level up before you could move at a decent speed. You should never be denied speed in a Sonic game. I’ve heard the Xbox 360 and PS3 Sonic the Hedgehog was even worse, though I haven’t actually played it.

So here’s what I think Sega needs to do to bring Sonic the Hedgehog back to his days of glory. Go back to the Sonic Adventure engine. It was solid. Fix some bugs if it’s necessary. I never noticed them in Sonic Adventure, but apparently some people did. Perhaps they can give the engine a graphical overhaul if they feel it’s necessary. This is all minor though.

The big step is to go back to the design of the Genesis games… but do it in 3d. Make linear levels with multiple paths to the end. One stage leads directly to another, no areas in between levels. Let Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles have access to different paths based on their unique abilities, but have them play all the same levels, just like in Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. Perhaps they might have a common path as well. No missions, just pure speed and destroying badniks to save the animals inside.

This is definitely doable, as shown by the 3d version of Green Hill Zone in Sonic Adventure 2. Actually, if they just remade Sonic 3 and Knuckles as a 3d game with the Sonic Adventure engine, that would quite possibly be one of the best things they could possibly do for the series. Then they could take that awesome game as an example of how to keep pumping out awesome 3d Sonic the Hedgehog games in the future.

Or maybe, just maybe, Sega will come up with something else with equal fun potential, and it will work out. If not, I hope they go with what I outlined above. Because I’d totally buy and play that game, and it would rock!

I still believe. Someday, we’ll see Sonic’s triumphant return to gaming.

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